back to news Feb. 18, 2014

Psychology Researcher Garners 2014 Sloan Fellowship

Julie Golomb, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, recently received a 2014 Alfred Sloan Fellowship. She joins 126 outstanding U.S. and Canadian early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. Golomb is the only Sloan Fellow chosen from Ohio.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded the two-year, $50,000 Sloan Research Fellowships annually since 1955 to early-career scientists and scholars. Awarded in eight scientific and technical fields—chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics--the fellowships are awarded through close cooperation with the scientific community. Candidates are nominated by their fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in his or

In addition to her faculty appointment in the Department of Psychology, Golomb is the director of the department’s Vision and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She also is a member of Ohio State’s Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Brain Imaging. She has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Neuroscience, Ohio State College of Medicine.

“I am honored to be selected as a Sloan Research Fellow,” says Golomb. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with some of the best mentors and colleagues in the world, and I am grateful to them and to the wonderfully supportive, stimulating environment I’ve found here at Ohio State. The Sloan award is not only exciting recognition at this early stage in my career, but the foundation’s generous support will help me continue to grow and develop my research lab.”

Richard Petty, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, nominated Golomb for the fellowship.

“Julie is clearly a rising star in the field of cognitive neuroscience,” says Petty. “Only a tiny fraction of cognitive neuroscientists today can so deftly employ such a wide variety of methods, including EEG, eye-tracking, fMRI, and TMS, to ask the core questions about cognitive function. Her work on spatiotopic vs. retinotopic representations of visual experience is both innovative and of core relevance to the field of vision research.”

Golomb’s research explores the interactions between visual attention, memory, perception and eye movements. She uses a variety of tools in her research, including human psychophysics, gaze-contingent eye-tracking, fMRI, ERP and TMS.

“We use these tools in my lab to get at both the behavioral and the neural underpinnings of visual cognition,” explains Golomb. “So much of what we perceive in the world is really just a construct made up by our brains. I’ve always been fascinated by trying to understand this process: ‘how do we go from our raw visual input (just points of light on our retinas) to these rich visual experiences?”

Specifically, Golomb’s lab focuses on two key aspects of this problem: How we perceive a stable world across eye movements, and how spatial information influences our ability to recognize and attend to different objects.

“Visual stability across eye movements is something most of us take for granted in daily life,” says Golomb. “But in reality, we make multiple, giant eye movements every second, resulting in a sequence of jarring, erratic snapshots sent to our brain (like watching a home movie filmed by a shaky photographer). But we don’t perceive the world jumping around with each eye movement; our brains construct such convincingly stable, seamless experiences that we’re not even aware there was a problem in the first place. “

Golomb’s research explores things like spatial attention and memory across eye movements to try to understand how our brains achieve this feat, and what we can learn when it fails.

Golomb’s lab also has been doing a lot of research recently looking at how an object’s location influences perception of its identity, and how these different visual properties are integrated in the brain.

Golomb serves on the editorial board of Psychological Science, the leading journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the largest and most important society of research psychologists representing all areas of the field. This appointment is unusual for someone so young – a clear reflection of her expertise at this early stage of her career.

She has continued to publish her research from earlier stages in high profile journals, with publications in the last few years at PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, Psychological Science, NeuroImage, Cerebral Cortex, and others, including a review paper in the prestigious and highly cited Annual Review of Psychology.

Golomb received her PhD in neuroscience from Yale University in 2009. She then was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, 2009-2012. During this time, she was continuously funded by external fellowships -- a remarkable trifecta of the NSF graduate research fellowship, the NIH predoctoral National Research Service Award, and the NIH post-doctoral NRSA.

“The Sloan award is not only exciting recognition at this early stage in my career, but the foundation’s generous support will help me continue to grow and develop my research lab.”